Gilbertsville, KY—April 12, 2016—Michigan’s Mark Hewitt and Ron O’Keefe led wire to wire to win the 2016 National Bass Anglers Association National Championship April 7-9.
Presented by Ranger Boats and Evinrude, the three-day event pitted the top 45 teams from 2015 NBAA events across the country against one another on the hallowed waters of Kentucky and Barkley lakes in an all-out grassroots bass battle.
Hewitt and O’Keefe topped the hard-fishing field by putting together three consistent catches of 20 pounds, 3 ounces, 21 pounds, 8 ounces and 16 pounds, 9 ounces for an impressive 58-pound, 4-ounce total weight.
For their efforts, they took home a $22,995 prize package that included a 2016 Ranger RT-178 boat complete with 75-horsepower Evinrude outboard, Minn Kota trolling motor and two Humminbird graphs. They also pocketed a pair of $300 bonus checks for sacking the heaviest stringer on days one and two.
After finishing second and fourth in recent NBAA championships, the pair was thankful for the win.
“It’s good to see the events and championships grow again,” said O’Keefe, of Nashville. “ We had a great time while we were here and met a lot of new people. We’re glad we continued to fish the NBAA.”
Hewitt, of Hastings, explained that he and O’Keefe focused on Barkley all three days, and caught most of their fish on ¼-ounce, black and blue flake jigs tipped with craw trailers—although crankbaits were key to catching kicker fish.
“We fished woody cover in three to six feet of water to catch our limit each morning, then cast cranks in eight- to 12-foot depths for bigger bass that were waiting to move up to spawn,” he said.
Rounding out the top five were:
2nd: Lee Wubbles, Chris Wood, 46-2, $2,500 plus Humminbird 899 HD SI and Evinrude Raker prop
3rd: Doug Sullivan, Dave Carpenter, 42-3, $1,000 plus Minn Kota trolling motor and Humminbird 698 HD SI
4th: Mark Rahn, Ryan Ortega, 41-09, $600 plus Humminbird Helix 7
5th: Steve Parker, Herb Rush, 39-11, $500 plus Evinrude Raker prop
A total of 362 bass weighing 976 pounds, 6 ounces crossed the stage during the event. Big bass was a 7-pound, 1-ounce beauty boated by Sullivan and Carpenter.
NBAA sponsors include Cabela’s, Ranger Boats, Evinrude, Humminbird, Stratos, Minn Kota, G-Juice and Poor Boy’s Baits.
Under the umbrella of The Bass Federation, the NBAA is open to bass anglers from all walks of life, with opportunities for local directors to set up a variety of events on lakes and rivers across the U.S. and Canada. For more information visit nbaa-bass.com or call (580) 765-2319.